Every year since 1950, India has been hosting a head of state or government of another country as the state guest of honour for Republic Day celebrations. The Chief Guest is chosen on the basis of strategic, economic and political interests. It will be the French President Francois Hollande this year, who will become the fifth French President to be a part of the ceremony since 1976.
Here are other famous personalities who have added value to the parade over the years:
1. President Sukarno, Indonesia – 1950
President Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia and also the chief guest of India’s first Republic Day celebration in 1950. He witnessed Dr. Rajendra Prasad being sworn in as the first President of Republic India.
2. King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, Nepal – 1951
3. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Bhutan – 1954
Leaders from Bhutan have been invited for Republic Day celebrations four times now. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was the first.
4. Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistan – 1955
Between 1950 and 1954, Republic Day celebrations were organised at different venues like Irwin Stadium, Kingsway, Red Fort and Ramlila Grounds. It was in 1955 that Rajpath became the permanent venue for the parade, and Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad was invited as the chief guest that year.
5. Queen Elizabeth II, United Kingdom – 1961
6. Prime Minister Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius – 1972
7. Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Australia – 1979
8. President Nelson Mandela, South Africa – 1995
9. President Vladimir Putin, Russia – 2007
10. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan – 2014
11. President Barack Obama, United States – 2015